, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 1 – The African Union (AU) has authorised an increase in security forces deployed to Somalia from the current 8,000 to 20,000 in an effort to pacify the war-torn country.
The deployment which will be done in phases will see 12,000 of the officers stationed in Mogadishu while the rest will be sent out to other parts of the country.
Speaking in Nairobi during a press briefing on Monday, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Police Commissioner Benzu Hudson said the AU would also help Somalia increase and re-train its police force to conform to international standards.
"The current strength of the Somali police stands at about 7,000 active officers. However according to the agreement with the international community the Somali government intends to have 10,000 strong police so there\’s a deficit of 3,000 yet to be trained," he said.
He however added that AMISOM was looking into ways of bridging the 3,000 deficit.
AMISOM Deputy Special Representative Wafula Wamunyinyi, who said that Kenya would train 800 police officers to be sent to Somalia, also asked other AU member states to offer support to the country.
He explained that the officers would undergo three months of training at Manyani before being deployed to Somalia.
"In November, 200 Somali cadets will begin their training course at a facility provided by the Kenyan government. This training will give the officers lessons in community policing, human rights, logistics and management," explained Mr Wamunyinyi.
Although he noted that the AU task force had taken over 50 percent of Mogadishu, the conditions in the capital city were still unstable. He cited the recent execution of two young girls by armed Somali militias as a case in point.
"The situation in Somalia is always changing but I can say it has been calm. Things are stable but tense because as you know Somalia is a state of its own; sometimes it can be peaceful and nice and then something bad happens," he said.
Mr Wamunyinyi added that so far, Malawi and Guinea Bissau had shown their willingness to send their troops to Somalia. These countries, he said, had already visited Somalia and assessed its security situation.
"Guinea Bissau has offered two battalions and Malawian authorities came down to have a look and also visited our mission area in Mogadishu. We are waiting for a decision from them," he said.
Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have also been requested by the AU to offer their security forces.
"Some of these decisions require a lot of political dialogue as you may recall Nigeria had promised to send in troops but has not done so yet. Probably because the Nigerian President who had committed Nigeria to this cause failed to convince his Parliament," explained Mr Wamunyinyi.
According to Mr Wamunyinyi AMISOM troops have been taking ground from armed opposition groups in Mogadishu since April. Other than facilitating security in Somalia, the AU taskforce also offers a variety of other humanitarian support to Somali refugees including: providing medical care, food and water.